Thu. May 23rd, 2024

Court orders Elon Musk’s X to block Sydney church stabbing footage

Jamie Roberts By Jamie Roberts May12,2024
Key Points
  • Social media platform X has been ordered to remove graphic content related to a Sydney church stabbing.
  • The stabbing attack led to a riot outside Christ the Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley.
  • Lawyers argued that X should shield the footage from all users, not just Australians.
An Australian court has ordered billionaire Elon Musk’s social media platform to block every user from seeing violent footage related to a Sydney church stabbing, not just block it for Australian audiences.
Amid political unity against X Corp’s defiant stance to keep potentially harmful content online, the nation’s internet cop launched the matter in the Federal Court on Monday evening.

During a hastily arranged hearing, a barrister for the eSafety Commissioner said the “graphic and violent” video remained online on X, formerly known as Twitter.

A 16-year-old boy has since been charged with a terrorism offence over the stabbings of Assyrian bishop Mar Mari Emmanuel and Father Isaac Royel during a live-streamed service last Monday night.
The stabbing attack led to a riot outside Christ the Good Shepherd Church in Wakeley.
In a video that has been circulating, the alleged attacker referred to insults against “my Prophet” before the stabbing.
It would cause “irreparable harm” if it continued to circulate, lawyer Christopher Tran said.

The commissioner had ordered the removal of the footage but X’s response was to block the video to Australian IP addresses, the court was told.

That left it accessible to international users or Australians using an overseas-based virtual private network.
“That was a choice, they could have done more,” Christopher Tran said.

He submitted that X should shield the footage from all users, not just Australians.

X pushes free speech argument

Anticipating an argument about the United States’ right to free speech, Tran said it appeared that right did not extend to depictions of violence.
Musk had branded the eSafety commissioner the “Australian censorship commissar” while his company raised free speech and jurisdictional concerns over the takedown order.
X also branded the internet cop’s move an “unlawful and dangerous approach”.
Marcus Hoyne, appearing for X Corp, urged the court to postpone the matter until he could seek “sensible and proper instructions” from his San Francisco-based client.

The eSafety commissioner’s court application was served at the last possible moment, Hoyne said.

He further argued that granting the order would affect international users “in circumstances where it has no impact on Australia”.
Justice Geoffrey Kennett granted the interim order sought, suppressing the footage to all users on X until at least Wednesday afternoon.

The case will return to court on Wednesday for an argument about a permanent suppression.

PM labels challenge “extraordinary”

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese described X’s decision to challenge the eSafety commissioner’s court order as “extraordinary”.

Albanese criticised the broadcast of violent images and said some social media content exacerbated the pain of many people.

“I find it extraordinary that X chose not to comply and are trying to argue their case,” Albanese told a press conference, adding that X’s response to the order by a government panel contrasted with that of other social media providers.
“This isn’t about freedom of expression,” Albanese said.
“This is about the dangerous implications that can occur when things that are simply not true … are replicated and weaponised in order to cause division.”
In this case, the promotion of negative statements had the potential to inflame a very difficult situation, he added.
Earlier, politicians offered free character assessments of Musk.

Tanya Plibersek called him an “egotistical billionaire”, Sarah Hanson-Young dubbed him a “narcissistic cowboy” while Simon Birmingham attacked X’s “ridiculous and preposterous argument” that removing imagery of a terrorist attack should be left online.

Jamie Roberts

By Jamie Roberts

Jamie is an award-winning investigative journalist with a focus on uncovering corruption and advocating for social justice. With over a decade of experience in the field, Jamie's work has been instrumental in bringing about positive change in various communities.

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One thought on “Court orders Elon Musk’s X to block Sydney church stabbing footage”
  1. It’s crucial that all social media companies, including X, take responsibility for the content they allow to be shared. The decision to block the violent footage from all users is a step in the right direction to prevent further harm from spreading online.

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